Unemployment numbers show 'heartening' improvement as states reopen: labor secretary

Continuing claims totaled 21.05 million, down 3.86 million from the previous week

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Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said Thursday that the decline in the number of continuing jobless claims in the federal government's weekly unemployment report is a "heartening" sign that the U.S. economy is improving amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"That continuing claims number is heartening, lower than expected," Scalia told "Mornings with Maria." "There's some anomalies in those numbers. A couple states accounting for the drop by and large, but you take those out, any way you look at it, continuing claims have dropped. It's what we want. It's what we'd expect as we reopen."

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Continuing claims totaled 21.05 million, down 3.86 million from the previous week, according to the Labor Department. The data represents people who have received unemployment benefits for at least two weeks.

In this May 13, 2020, photo, Monique Kursar, left, completes a purchase with Amy Witt, owner of the Velvet Window, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Since mid-March, when health officials deemed the virus a pandemic and economic lockdowns began, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

"I had the opportunity to be down in Florida, Georgia, with the vice president last week," Scalia said. "Those are states that opened up earlier than many, and part of the good news is that we are not seeing as of now the spikes in return of the virus in the states that have reopened, so we will learn a lot in weeks ahead."

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